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Stefan Bush-Gordon

Logic 2: Deductive Reasoning


1. Explain the differences between induction and deduction, and provide an example of
each.
Induction and deduction are two forms of logical reasoning. They differ both in their
method and also in the resulting answer obtained from the reasoning process.
One difference is that deduction gives certainty, whereas induction gives probability. In a
valid deductive argument, the conclusion follows necessarily from its premises, or rather the
information in the conclusion is contained within the premises. For example, the proposition
“Socrates is mortal” follows necessarily from the premises “All men are mortal, Socrates is
a man”. If we know the premises to be true, and the argument to be valid, then the
conclusion must also be true, allowing us to be certain of the truth or falsity of an argument.
The claim of an inductive argument, however, is that the premises support or suggest the
conclusion drawn, but they do not outright prove or disprove the truth value of the
conclusion. An example of induction would be to argue that because all the squirrels I have
observed are grey, I conclude that all squirrels are grey. This conclusion may be true or
false, the argument only serves to suggest probability of the conclusion. Deduction can
therefore be seen as making the strongest claims, that the product of deductive reasoning is
certain, whereas induction is uncertain.
This leads to a difference between how deductive and inductive arguments are judged.
Deductive arguments can be valid or invalid, which judge whether the conclusion logically
(necessarily) follows from the premises, but they can also be sound or unsound, and this
introduces the value of truth and falsity to deduction. If an argument is valid and its
premises are also true, then the conclusion necessarily must be also, and this combination of
validity and truth is soundness. Inductive arguments are either strong or weak, referring to
how their premises are judged to support the probability of the conclusion.
Induction, unlike deduction, goes beyond what is contained within the premises by claiming
common characteristics between entities, or patterns and resemblances give support to a
wider conclusion that might entail unstated, unknown factors. Conversely, deduction does
not create new information with its conclusions, as it is all already contained within the
premises.

2. Explain what constitutes a deductive system.


The foundational mechanism or basis of a deductive system is its axioms. Axioms are
asserted statements, often considered to be self-evident, that serve as a starting point for
deriving theorems. They have certain qualities or requirements: they must be consistent with
the other axioms without contradiction, and yet logically independent, meaning that they do
not cover the same ground and cannot be derived from the other axioms. An example of an
axiom taken from the system of Euclidean Geometry is “all right angles are equal to one
another”.
Axioms are stated within the language of the system, and this language is described through
the listing of its “defined terms”. The defined terms explain the meaning behind the terms to
be used in the system and their legal application within the system. An example of a defined
term within geometry is “an angle can be defined as two rays or two line segments having a
common end point”. The use of defined terms is important within a deductive system so that
propositions created are not misinterpreted,but are consistent and coherent and can be
Stefan Bush-Gordon

logically evaluated within the system.


With the axioms and defined terms of a deductive system in place, propositions can be
inferred in the form of hypotheses and conclusions, which link together to become
“theorems”. The hypotheses can arise from the axioms themselves, or from previously
established theorems. Theorems are proven propositions that are a logical consequence of
the axioms and rules of inference of a deductive system. An example of a theorem is the
Pythagorean Theorem that results from Euclidean Geometry, which states “the sum of the
areas of the two squares on the legs of a right triangle equals the area of the square on the
hypotenuse”. The demonstration of the line of reasoning from the axiomatic basis of the
system gives proof to the theorem's correctness.
The last constituent of a deductive system is completeness. This is the ability of the system
to be able to prove or disprove any proposition meaningfully formulated in the language of
the system. This ability relies on the success of the axioms to provide all the necessary
information and conditions to be able to make a logical true or false statement about any
proposition.

3. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of using deduction.


The main advantage to deduction is the certainty, or predictability deductive reasoning
gives. Deduction occurs within a defined and internalized system that is not subject to
external changes, showing that the conclusion is contained within and, so necessarily
follows, its premises. This gives us definitive and verifiable results as to the validity of
arguments, with an absolute true or false value (in a binary system). Another advantage is
that it constitutes a methodical, no-thinking type of reasoning which is very practical; we do
not have to weigh up contributing factors and their relevance and strength of support to the
conclusion like we do with induction, but rather the information is already contained within
the premises and we are merely recognising a previously unnoticed fact.
Deduction also has its disadvantages. The nature of deduction as a completely rigid system
with all the information already contained within it means that what we can gain from
deductive reasoning is limited; deduction does not create any new information, it only aids
us in finding existing information that the system can accommodate and so cannot
accommodate anything that falls outside of the system. As a consequence, deductive
systems are often contradicted by observations of reality they seek to formalise or explain
and must be completely revised and made anew to be able to explain the information that
the existing deductive system cannot. This limits the scope of what we can explain through
deductive reasoning, and makes complete, long-lasting deductive systems rare.